Townend to make hay on Zaidpour in Red Mills Trial Hurdle


RACING:Paul Townend knows better than anyone how being number two at the Willie Mullins yard can pay off in prime fashion and the former champion jockey should prove the point again on Zaidpour today.

The double-Grade One winner is among half a dozen horses in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park, the centrepiece of a reduced six-race card due to waterlogging on the chase course.

With the cancellation of Navan tomorrow, it provides a weekend lifeline to Irish race-fans, who also realise how profitable it can be to side with Townend on these Saturday fixtures. It certainly paid off last weekend when Ruby Walsh’s UK commitments let his junior colleague in for a Leopardstown hat-trick, highlighted by a pair of Grade One victories.

That, yet again, emphasised the overall power of the Mullins team, something obvious from the jockeys table too, where Townend is third with 56 winners, behind only Walsh (83) and Davy Russell (85), and pressured only by the trainer’s amateur jockey son, Patrick, on 51.

Mullins also runs So Young in today’s feature but it is Zaidpour, a 2/9 winner of this race last year, who is Townend’s pick. Zaidpour found Bog Warrior too good over three miles here in the Galmoy Hurdle last time and his best form is probably at two and a half.

Testing conditions

However, on testing conditions he remains a formidable operator at the minimum trip despite having to concede weight all-round.

“He has a good record at the track and will love the ground,” Mullins confirmed yesterday. “So Young has won three times over two miles and should go on the ground, but his form has been a bit in and out this season.

“We are just hoping he can put it all together. On recent form, you’d have to say Zaidpour would have the better chance.”

Co Cork trainer Mick Winters has declined the opportunity to run his Champion Hurdle outsider Rebel Fitz and instead relies on his versatile mare Missunited. “She’s in great form and I’m very happy with her at home, but we’re going there hoping she’ll run into some black type more than anything. We’re not expecting her to win,” said Winters.

“I think if we’d maybe had another month and had the chance to run her in a schooling race somewhere, she’d be a bit fitter. But I still think she’ll give a good account of herself as she’s getting a lot of weight from Zaidpour and the other boys,” he added.

Irish debut

Townend is on Djakadam in the four-year-old hurdle and those who plunged on this one to 3/10 on his Irish debut will be hoping for better luck than at Thurles when he unseated Ruby Walsh after the last.

He wasn’t travelling like a long odds-on shot though when exiting and there could be value to be had by siding with Ibsen.

John Murphy’s runner followed up an excellent debut behind Flaxen Flare with a strange effort at Leopardstown behind Fatcatinthehat.

Ibsen looked well beaten a long way from home that day but plugged on noticeably well on bad ground to again finish runner up. On that evidence, even these very deep conditions shouldn’t be much of a problem to him.

Lookoutnow is in the form of his life right now and is almost a stone higher in the ratings for the second division of the maiden hurdle for an easy win at Tramore on New Years Day. He has won here over fences since and is hard to oppose.

The five-year-old Rogue Angel has a big task in the first division, carrying 11-10 on heavy going, and there could be value to be had looking at Sumkindasuprstar at the bottom of the scale.

He hasn’t run over flights in two years but it was only on the run-in that Sumkindasuprstar lost out on a place in the Thyestes Chase here a couple of weeks ago.

Bobbyjo Chase A significant test

Next Saturday’s Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse is shaping up into a hugely significant test of Irish hopes of landing April’s John Smith’s Aintree Grand National.

The ante-post favourite for Liverpool, Prince De Beauchene, is likely to attempt back-to-back wins in the Bobbyjo and is set to be joined by the 2011 Grand National runner-up Oscar Time and the 2012 Irish National hero Lion na Bearnai, among others.

Ted Walsh has also indicated he is likely to run last year’s Aintree National third Seabass in the Fairyhouse highlight and reported his other big National hope, Colbert Station, could reappear in the Newlands Chase at Naas the following day.

Both Walsh horses also currently remain in next Saturday’s Racing Post Chase at Kempton.

Willie Mullins used the Bobbyjo as a prep for Hedgehunter before his memorable Grand National victory.

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